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Thanksgiving in a Feast of Political Cartoons

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When most people think of Thanksgiving, their minds fill with  images of families and friends gathered around the dining room table giving thanks for the bounty they have received during the year.

Political cartoonists often see the Thanksgiving celebration as a way to poke fun at a political issue, put a satirical spin on an event, or criticize a noted figure or group of figures.

The Library’s collections are full of political cartoons with Thanksgiving themes. Need teaching ideas? Use the Library’s primary source analysis tool and analyzing political cartoons teachers guide to help students get started.

As a model have students start with this cartoon.

Thanksgiving : a study in proportion. Udo J. Keppler, 1912

Use the analysis tool to help them dig deeply into the cartoon.  What questions do they have as they work with this cartoon? What do they think the cartoonist is commenting on? Share the bibliographic information on this cartoon. What was going on at the time this cartoon was produced? Do they agree or disagree with the cartoonist’s point of view?

Here are a few others that have a common theme. What do they have in common? What is the point that the cartoonists are trying to get across? Do the students think the cartoonists are successful?

Thanksgiving, Joseph Ferdinand Keppler. 1883

Our International Thanksgiving. John S. Pughe, 1901

The Informal Dreibund. Udo J. Keppler, 1899

Looking for more political cartoons? There are many within the Digital Collections of the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division. Don’t forget to explore our Political Cartoons Primary Source Set. Make sure to review the suggestions for teachers in the teachers guide for more ideas for teaching with political cartoons. We also have done a number of blog posts that discuss incorporating political cartoons into classroom activities.

What other holidays have served as inspiration for political cartoons?

Comments (3)

  1. Excellent collection, remarkable!

  2. Very, very helpful. I appreciate your weekly emails.

  3. These are times that definitely call for political cartoons and a feast this is. While the evening news these days is its own political satire, cartoons offer the opportunity to delve into history and learn the backstory with the humor and commentary. Thank you for this page, and this cartoon at the top. Golf clubs? I see they are timeless. Wonderful!

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